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Lord Heal Your Church

Lord Heal Your Church

We have picked up our cultural norms (adapted from Heather Webb: Small Group Leadership)—-LORD have mercy we are consumerist we are competitivewe are fragmented Lord have mercy on us Christ have mercy on us Lord have mercy on us Heal us… from consumerism… and cause us to love and serve each other.  Deliver us from the mind-set—‘what’s in it for me?’ Heal us ….from having a competitive edge… and cause us to lay down our lives for each other. Heal us from… being fragmented… and cause us to live as a community of merciful, gracious, giving, loving people.  To live holistically, loving God with all our minds, hearts souls, and our strength—and loving our neighbours as ourselves.  

P W Cusick   30 Dec 2014

Do I have to go to church?

Okay... question time.

What is more important?

To GO to church?...............orTo BE the church?
You will answer that question depending on your tradition, culture, and background.  I am a third generation church person.  I grew up eating, breathing, and living church.  If there were ANY church activity of ANY description--my family canceled breathing if necessary and go to the church building.          Church equaled Jesus to me--in my informative years.  As long as church was primary and focused--my 'religious' life would be in tact.  To be fair to me--if you would have asked this question to me anytime during the first 18 years of my life I would have responded: "Huh?  What are you talking about?"
How about you?
As we enter 2015 I suspect that church attendance statistics (average family attends one service twice a month) would tell us that most church people would answer this way:  "Well, it's more important to BE the church."
Here are some observat…

Shut up!

Image
Will Rogers:  Never miss a chance  to shut up!
Why do most of us have the tendency to:
Be verboseTo pontificateTo spout offTo engage mouth prior to brain activity
1.  Goal:  Practice shutting up!
2.  Goal:  Practice listening:

“Truly, anyone who welcomes my messenger is welcoming me, and anyone who welcomes me is welcoming the Father who sent me.”” John 13:20, NLT.
There are messengers that represent Jesus —who represents Father.  Let's not close the door on revelation, help, direction, advise  …..because we are too arrogant, shooting off our own my mouths!
LORD: He who won’t stop talking cannot listen!Help us to be  listenersHelp us to be  learnersHelp us to just shut up…Will Rogers:Never miss a chanceto shut up

Getting everyone on the same page

John11: 49* And one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said, “How can you be so stupid? 50* Why should the whole nation be destroyed? Let this one man die for the people.” 51* This prophecy that Jesus should die for the entire nation came from Caiaphas in his position as high priest. He didn’t think of it himself; he was inspired to say it.
52* It was a prediction that Jesus’ death would be not for Israel only, but for the gathering together of all the children of God scattered around the world.
Are we missing the obvious? There is only ONE way to get everyone on the same page! Regardless of:
Ethnicity Culture Preference Strengths Weaknesses Likes Dislikes Wants Needs

"The ONE thing" you ask?  It is the death of Jesus.   The death of Jesus was/is for the "gathering together of all the children of God scattered around the world."
That is the one unifying action--the one unifying story.  No wonder Jesus said: Joh 12:32* And when I am lifted up on the cross, I will dra…

Appropriating what Christ has done for me!

What is the LORD saying today?
Your life is not about striving.. it is about appropriating.  You approach those two things differently. Striving is what I do FOR myself.Appropriating is what Christ does FOR me. “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” Colossians 3:1-3, NIV.
When you come to Christ you die.  Dead to sin. Dead to lust. Dead to envy. Dead to sickness. Dead to coveting. Dead to the applause of men Dead to bullying. Dead. Dead. Dead. You did not kind of die—you DIED.  Enter into the death of Christ. (Read: Romans 6-7-8) “If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.” Romans 6:5, NIV.
Union with Christ in HIS death It is not about striving… it is about appropriating what HAS been accomplished through …

Don't succumb to the pressure

“Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.” John 6:15, NIV.
Many years ago, we used to preach and teach against peer pressure.  Stuff like:
Don't follow the crowdBe your own personDon't let the world squeeze you into its mould (see Romans 12:1-2  Phillips paraphrase)Be tough!  Stand up for Jesus!
Jesus' peer pressure was really quite different in this story.  The crowd loved Jesus.  They imagined him as the ruling and reigning king.  Jesus was capable.  He was a charismatic ruler/ leader and He was attracting large crowds.  He has just fed 5,000 men, plus women and children, with five barley loaves and two fishes.  That's the kind of political leader that could take the Jewish nation back from Rome.
But, Jesus would not succumb to the pressure.  John tells us that Jesus withdrew again to a mountain by himself.

Jesus withdrew again.  This tells me that this wasn't the first time Jesus did this kind …

Opportunity to listen: Do you hear what I hear?

There is presented to us two opportunities to listen:
Opportunity # 1:
"Do you hear what I hear?"
John 5:25* I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. 26* For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself.
Here, it is:  Jesus is calling NOW, today--He is calling me.  He is calling you.  Can you hear Him?  What is interesting here is--your choice.  This opportunity to listen has within it--choice.  You/ I can choose to ignore the voice.  We can shut that voice off--we can ignore that voice--tune it out.  
It all comes down to listening.  It all comes down to realizing God's call--and accepting that call!

Opportunity # 2:
This actually is NOT an opportunity....but here it is:
John 5: 28* “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice 29* and come out--those who have done good will rise to live, an…

God is after you! And... for a different reason than you think!

Have you ever been pursued by a suitor—a lover—someone who is very interested in you?
Was it pleasant to be liked?  Was it pleasant to be wanted?  Well, yeah—for sure.  Who doesn’t want to be loved? Who doesn’t want to be sought after?  Who doesn’t want to be appreciated?
I do!  I am sure you do too!
Did you know that is actually the message of Christmas—and the actual ‘story’ of the Bible?  It’s a story about God pursuing humanity. Too often when we think of God, or church, or the Bible—we think of behaving ourselves enough to get God’s attention.  Or, we think of trying hard to impress God—so that God would appreciate the hard work we are doing down here and give us His nod.
Well, actually that is not true.  That is not the message of the Bible—nor the core message of Christmas.  It is actually the total opposite.  The core message of Christmas is not our chasing God—it is God chasing us!
God is so in love with us—and wants so much for us to be with Him—and walk in His presence—HE …

Sitting at the feet of Jesus

“As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a village where a woman named Martha welcomed them into her home.” Luke 10:38, NLT.
Oh Jesus, how I want to welcome you into my home and into my life.  I want to welcome you into my every second of my breathing.  I am so empty and lost without you
So, I ask the question:  "Am I doing enough to welcome you?" “Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught.” Luke 10:39, NLT.
*Sitting *Listening These are two difficult things in our busy, fast paced culture. “But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are so upset over all these details! There is really only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it--and I won’t take it away from her.”” Luke 10:41, 42, NLT. There is one thing  worth being concerned about.  There is one thing that is THE most important focus for me--sitting at the feet of Jesus:

1 Sitting at the feet of Jesus, Oh, what words I hear Him say! Happy pla…

Perfection?

Like most of you, during my first 18 years of life I did my usual grade school education.  There are not many occasions that stand out in my mind when I received a test back and scored perfectly.  As a matter of fact since that time—having take,  almost 35 courses of one description or another—not many perfects.    With that lack of perfection imagine my immediate “Really?” when I read “We are glad whenever we are weak but you are strong; and our prayer is for your perfection.” 2 Corinthians 13:9, NIV.   Paul was praying for the Corinthians’ ‘perfection.’ This brings me to three questions: 1.  How much praying is Paul planning on doing?  I’m thinking… LOTS! 2.  Maybe the Corinthian congregation wasn’t as bad as the letter reveals? 3.  Maybe perfection doesn’t mean what I think.  Let’s work with that for a minute. The New Living Translation uses the phrase “What we pray for is your restoration to maturity.”  Well, that’s a little better.  The word ‘perfection’ is the word ‘katartisis’ which…

Please sir, I want some more!

Remember Oliver Twist holding up his bowl and saying: “Please sir, I want some more”?  In Charles Dickens famed story of Oliver Twist, Oliver is a boy born into a life of poverty that is orphaned at an early age—but raised on a farm.  This scene occurs after Oliver has worked extra hard and by luck of the draw was to ask for another portion of gruel. I was reminded of this little incident today in prayer—and envisioned myself lifting my little bowl to Father and saying: “Please sir, I want some more!”   What I sensed Father telling me follows.  ‘You are not a begging orphan.  You are a King’s son sitting at the King’s table.  The only way you are NOT there…is when you choose to eat pig slop.  Those times when you willfully LEAVE the table—you leave to eat slop.  But My table is always ready, full of best the of My presence for you to eat.  If you will abide … you will always eat the best of wares.  If you will abide… my presence is always there for you.  Just abide and cease striving—ju…

Unity of prayer! (Historical Document from: Cyprian)

Above all, the Teacher of peace and Master of unity did not want prayer to be made singly and privately, so that whoever prayed would pray for himself alone. We do not say My Father, who art in heaven or Give me this day my daily bread; nor does each one ask that only his own debt should be forgiven him; nor does he request for himself alone that he may not be led into temptation but delivered from evil. Our prayer is public and common, and when we pray, we pray not for one person but for the whole people, since we, the whole people, are one.
The God of peace and the Master of concord, who taught unity, willed that one should pray for all, just as he himself, being one, carried us all. The three children observed this law when they were shut into the fiery furnace, praying with one voice and with one heart: thus our faith in divine Scripture teaches us, and, as it teaches us how such people prayed, gives us an example that we should follow in our own prayers, so that we may become like…

Where are you Jesus?

A rather long time ago—as a text in one class in Bible college we had to read:  Hide and Seek.  Hide and Seek, is a best selling book by Dr. James Dobson in which he helps parents “raise self-confident, healthy children. By applying the strategies outlined here, youngsters need not hide in shame but can gain the courage to seek the best from their world (http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/329775.Hide_or_Seek:   accessed 30 Oct, 2014)."   The title is obviously a takeoff the old game 'hide and go seek.' We all played it as children—or as grandparents!   But, sometimes don’t you think Jesus likes a good game of hide and seek?  Sometimes you go looking for Jesus, and He seems to be hiding! We have all done this at one time or another—looked for Jesus.  We are hurt, lonely, confused, sick, in trouble, struggling—or whatever—and we set out on a search—where is Jesus?  Where is His presence?  Where is His love?  Where is His mercy?  Compassion?  Power?  Touch?  Where on earth is …

Jesus on the cross

For six gruesome hours, Jesus has tried to get his breath—pushing up on his legs—gasping for air.  But, as the sixth hour came—darkness descends on the land.  It is an ominous darkness—natural but also spiritual.  The gospel writers are all in agreement; this darkness hung over the whole land  from the sixth hour through until the ninth hour.  It is at the ninth hour that the prayer of dereliction left the mouth of Jesus:  “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”  Jesus is dying.  Jesus is physically suffering more than one could imagine.  Jesus is bleeding—his life is being poured out.  But there is more.  Jesus mystically, supernaturally, and miraculously is suffering spiritually.  He, in obedience to Father’s will—is dying vicariously, bearing the sins of mankind as the great sin-bearer.  So, the natural darkness, the physical pain—is nothing compared to the spiritual separation that Jesus knows is happening.  His purpose and destiny are finding reality in the middle of this dar…

Guilty as Charged!

We’ve all witnessed the court room scene on a T.V. show.  The gavel is slammed down and the judge declares: “Guilty as charged.”  Guilt is an interesting and very misunderstood verdict. There are two terms that are used synomously but are actually very different in nature. Think first of the term shame.  It’s not a popular word anymore and we are part of a society that often has no shame.  However, that aside, the word toxic shame is a judgment call upon one’s worth.  These are toxic shame statements:  I’m no good.  I am the problem. I am evil.  I am worthless. I am something wrong. I am a mistake. I should not exist.

The other term is guilt or guilty.  This is a far trickier term.  We have fallen captive to a subtle but powerful error by defining guilty in terms of a feeling.  In our spiritual walks we traditionally have called this, ‘the conviction of the Holy Spirit.’  Our tradition uses this terms to define the following activity.  When you sin or grieve the Holy Spirit, He makes y…

Unity?

““I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me because of their testimony. My prayer for all of them is that they will be one, just as you and I are one, Father--that just as you are in me and I am in you, so they will be in us, and the world will believe you sent me. “I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are-- I in them and you in me, all being perfected into one. Then the world will know that you sent me and will understand that you love them as much as you love me.” John 17:20-23, NLTLord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy on meLord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy on usHeal us LORD of our judgmentalism.Heal us LORD of our egotism.Heal us LORD—we are a bunch of control freaks.Heal us LORD—we are more interested in getting our own feet washed, instead of washing another’s person’s feet.Heal us LORD—we are confused; arrogant and we build our own kingdoms.Heal us LORD—we are not very…

What is my definition of sin?

What is my definition of sin?

I’m thinking today of  an exam I took in grade ten French class.  First let me tell you about the night before.  I had been struggling with French all term.  The night before the exam I buckled down and focused my attention for twenty minutes of studying.  It seemed like a nice round number—twenty!   Into the exam, I went and when I flipped the page over—the guess work began.  Here’s the problem—you can’t guess on a French exam.  It is either right or wrong—there is really no guess work involved.  My opinion didn’t matter.  I flunked!  Oh really?  Yes, hard to believe.
Interesting that when it comes to many issues—society does what I did in my French exam—we guess.  There is no absolute right or wrong—we guess.  We take opinion polls. We ask: ‘well, does this issue affect society?’ If it affects only me—then who cares—it’s my decision, my opinion.  While all that may be true about what brand of vehicle we choose to drive—it is not true about truth, morals, …

The rich man in Mark 10: 17-27

The rich man in Mark 10: 17-27 Questions:
What does following Jesus mean to me? What is Jesus asking ME to lay down at His feet? What is blocking ME from following Him more closely?
“Lord those are not easy questions… nor easy to hear the answer that you have for me. They also probably are not short easy cut answers either. Teach me LORD what those answers are!”
Jesus tells us:  It’s hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom.. not because he is rich… but because he loves being rich.  His focus is on rich.  His attention is on rich.  His identity is on being rich. Is it hard for us to enter the kingdom?  Well just take the ‘rich’ out and put in: family health body image sports cars RRSP relaxation music T.V. sex holiday children spouse work boat house clean-freak shopping anything…  This is a difficult yet powerful spiritual exercise, do you or I have the faith or guts to try it?
The key to the solution—- Who then can be saved?
Humanly speaking, it is impossible.  But not with God… everything is possible with God! So,…